Although an accountant that has made partner with a top firm can draw in an annual salary of $3 million, the starting salary for an entry level accountant is greatly lower. Careers in Accounting states that the median salary for public accounting in 2010 was $59,000. Accountants in larger cities tend to make more than their counterparts in smaller locales. Education is a factor, as well, in a new accountant's salary. Those with degrees in business have higher starting salaries than those who have a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts degree.
Accountants and Auditors
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that in May 2008, the median annual salary for accountants and auditors was $59,430. The BLS discovered that the lower 10 percent of accountants earned less than $36,720 per year, while the upper 10 percent made $102,380 or more. Fifty percent of the accountants and auditors in the study made between $45,900 and $78,210 annually. In a study quoted by BLS, starting salary for candidates with a bachelor's degree averaged $48,993 in July 2009. For those with a master's degree, the average starting salary was $49,786.
Salary by Size of Firm
Careers in Accounting looked at accountant salaries in the top four national accounting firms and compared them to salaries of all the other firms. What they found was that these top firms (Price Waterhouse, Ernst & Young, Deloitte, and KPMG) had entry level starting salaries of $55,000 in March 2011. The salary range for someone with similar experience in an entry level job was $50,000 to $70,000 for all other firms. Once an accountant makes senior level, the salary can be as high as $95,000 per year for someone working in the top four firms. This compares to $70,000 for all other firms.
Salary by Industry
In its May 2008 study, the BLS found that the median wage for accountants and auditors employed in accounting, bookkeeping, and payroll services was $61,480. Those employed in company or enterprise management made $59,820 while accountants in the insurance carrier industry made $59,550 per year. Government accountants made slightly less. An accountant with local government had a median salary of $53,660 per year. State government accountants earned a median salary of $51,250.
Indeed.com found that average accountant salaries for job postings were 25 percent lower than the average salary for all other job postings. The site also reported that accountant salaries had dipped in the spring of 2010, but had rebounded to 2009 levels by January 2011. As of April 2011, the average salary for an accountant job posting was $55,000 per year, whereas Job Volume reports that accountant entry-level salary positions had an average offered salary of $35,000, with a median salary of $40,000. This was 51 percent lower than the median salary for all other observed jobs.